Sep 04

A Woman on the Edge of Time by Jeremy Gavron

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I received a copy of this book through Netgalley.  All thoughts are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.


A Woman on the Edge of Time

A Son Investigates His Trailblazing Mother’s Young Suicide
by Jeremy Gavron
Biographies & Memoirs



In London, 1965, a brilliant young woman—a prescient advocate for women’s rights—has just gassed herself to death, leaving behind a suicide note, two young sons, and a soon-to-be-published book: The Captive Wife. No one had ever imagined that Hannah Gavron might take her own life. Beautiful, sophisticated, and swept up in the progressive ’60s, she was a promising academic and the wife of a rising entrepreneur. But there was another side to Hannah, as Jeremy Gavron reveals in this searching portrait of his mother.
Gavron—who was just four when his mother killed herself—attempts to piece her life together from letters, diaries, photos, and the memories of old acquaintances. Ultimately, he not only uncovers Hannah’s struggle to carve out her place in a man’s world; he examines the suffocating constrictions placed on every ambitious woman in the mid-twentieth century.


My review:

I have a morbid fascination with real life cases of suicide.  Maybe it’s my psychology degree, maybe it’s the mystery involved, but I want to learn as much as I can.  I can’t imagine what would drive a mother to small children who appears to be so accomplished to such a drastic act that effects so many.  I hoped in reading this tale that I would understand more about the mindset that lead Hannah to this point.

At first, Gavron tells us what he remembers learning as he grew up and what he has pieced together about his mother’s actual death.  He was only 4 at that point, so much if it is learned later in his life, most of it as he starts inquiries among those that knew his mother.  As he moves into Hannah’s life history, I became fascinated.  How often do we learn so much about a person, picking up on little clues and nuances that may explain later acts in life?  Gavron’s chronicle is thorough – he left no stone unturned, even after 70+ years after Hannah’s girlhood.

Also interesting to note is how much further behind America Britain seemed to be regarding the women’s movement.  Hannah appeared to be able to have it all: a family, a husband, a lover, a full education and an admirable career.  But one thing was the tipping point that drove her over the edge.  Her doctoral thesis, published posthumously as “The Captive Wife”, made her into a feminist figure when it was very hard to be one.  Many women in America were pushing the boundaries, but Hannah seemed very much alone.  I wonder if she had been in America if she would have felt as hopeless.

If you’re interested in sociology and/or psychology, I think you would enjoy A Woman on the Edge of Time.  However, there really is no happy ending or revelation in this story.  It’s a dark examination of a troubled young woman’s mind, to the extent that can be pieced together by her actions and at a distance of 50 years.  This book will be published in the US on September 20, 2016; you can preorder it now from Amazon.

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  1. 6
    Michelle Elizondo

    I love books about empowering women. I love also suspense and intrigue.

  2. 5
    Dotty J Boucher

    This book sounds very interesting, I love how it begins right away and starts going in depth about whats going on , what happened and why..

  3. 4
    Diana Ware-Page

    Suicide to me is the cowards way out, they leave everyone else to deal with the pain, anger and the feelings of “why”?

  4. 3
    Sue E

    This book has caught my interest, because I too can’t fathom why a young woman so blessed as Hannah, would want to kill herself! Why would she leave her precious children?? What a tragedy!!

  5. 2
    June S.

    (A Woman on the Edge of Time by Jeremy Gavron) Definitely a book that I would really enjoy reading this winter when things start to slow down around here a bit. Will look for it at my local library-

  6. 1
    Amber Ludwig

    I have a morbid fascination too!! So glad Im not the only one lol!! I am super interested in checking out this book!!

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